After a cross country trip and dealing with one child’s new found phobia of giant costumed characters, we decided to spend our summer holiday this year closer to home. We would spend a week in Brewster and do all the touristy things we typically avoid when we are only there for a weekend.
Cape Cod is a hang out place. Just about everywhere is near some body of water whether it’s the ocean, bay or a lake. Strange as it appears on the surface, in a lot of ways the Cape vibe is similar to Hawaii. Once you’ve finally made it, you mostly just want to chill out in a chair, have an adult beverage, stare out at the water or read a book. All of which is completely possible with two kids under the age of 10!
There was plenty of hanging out, plenty of time in the waves and plenty of drinking, but we also did check a number of things off our Cape bucket list.
We spent the first our weekends hosting friends. Having other kids around to provide distraction and entertainment for your own kids is key to enjoying the Cape. Unless you can’t get enough of water games and playgrounds.
Even on regular weekend trips the Brewster General Store is a must visit for the “penny” candy selection.
If you’ve fed your kids a bunch of candy and it’s not yet noon, Stony Brook Field (home of the Whitecaps – 2017 Cape League champs) has a good playground and baseball field that is easily accessible by car or the CCRT bike path if the kids need to burn off a little sugar. Fact: kids cannot resist running the bases at least once.
We might have had a list for the week, but hitting the beach, especially low tide on the bay side was still a priority. The kids (okay and the adults) never get tired of exploring the cold spots, left behind tidal pools and searching for sand dollars.
We didn’t deprive the kids of the pool, either. This year, with both kids at least safe from not drowning too quickly, it’s nice to let them play alone in the pool and get a few minutes to sip that boat drink under the shade of the pool umbrella.
One thing about the heavy seasonal nature of the Cape is that business often come and go. Favorites one year will disappear and never be heard from again the next. One place we hope sticks around is SUPfari. A local business that’s been around a few years, but this year started offering stand up paddle board rentals (daily or weekly) from Brewster Center.
While none of us are experienced enough to take them out on the ocean side, the bay or the nearby lakes are perfect and very placid for beginners. Michelle, Cecilia and I all enjoyed paddling around on the bay. It made me feel better about all those mai tais we made later!
We took advantage of some gray skies on Tuesday to head over to Chatham. We walked along a beach, climbed some dunes and checked out some seals, no sharks spotted, before heading into town to walk the main commercial strip.
The main strip of Chatham offers a lot of shops and restaurants to browse, along with lots of nautical puns. The shops range from rubber ducks, books, knick-knacks and art. We didn’t end up eating in town, the waits were too long, but the kids did not miss out that Chatham had their own penny candy store.
Peeking at the forecast, we had earmarked Wednesday for our trip to Provincetown and our whale watch (I wrote about this in more detail in a separate post).
Quick side note, The Donut Experiment is a great place to kill some time while waiting to board your whale watch boat. You get to make up your own donut flavor. The girls could barely wrap their heads around this concept.
The 3-hour whale watch ended up being perhaps the unexpected highlight of the week. Maybe we got lucky, but we saw a lot of whales, doing lots of things.
After the whale watch and some quick souvenir shopping, we had a picnic lunch in one of the nearby state parks (at this point in the day the wait to get into the parking lot for the beaches was too long and the girls were already on edge after all the time on the boat).
Then it was time for the grandparents to (graciously) shepherd some tired girls back home to Brewster, while Michelle and I walked around Provincetown and impatiently waited for the dollar oysters and drinks specials to start!
After building up a thirst walking and exploring a few shops along Commercial St., our (im)patience was rewarded with some very tasty local oysters at The Patio.
Thursday morning we took advantage of a local Brewster government program to dig up some clams. Yes, they were from a seeded bed and you almost tripped over the clams, but the kids had a great time and the clams ended up tasting delicious in both some homemade chowder and stuffies.
For the cost of a license ($25 for residents for the year or $20 for a weekly non-resident), you can take 10 quarts of clams per week. If you use one of the seeded beds, a donation is also encouraged.
After getting the clams home, we headed back out to the beach, but this time we went to the ocean side, rather than the bay side. The ocean side means more surf and waves.
We hit up Nauset Beach and despite going clamming first, we were still early enough to get in the parking lot and find a decent spot on the sand. We picked Nauset because it also includes a large snack shack and bathrooms.
The surf at times was a bit rough for the girls, but it was a nice change of pace from the very calm bay side. A few more years and they will both be body surfing the whole day.
We also found out that the ocean side has one other thing the bay lacks: sharks! The beach was closed for almost two hours due to a great white sighting. The girls, having never seen Jaws, were rather nonplussed about the whole thing. I found it hilarious that after they lifted the restriction (you could go in up to your waist), how many people ran headlong into the water.
That night, Michelle and I escaped the house and had a date night dinner at Sunbird in Orleans. It was pretty good. A coffee shop by day transformed into a small restaurant at night that offered the type of fare not typically found on the Cape. I love seafood, soft serve and lobster rolls, but sometimes you need a break and Sunbird hit the spot.
Friday morning, I was able to get out a do a long ride on the rail trail up to Wellfleet and discovered some really nice views from the top of Oceanview Drive. It was worth the climb to the top. Maybe next time we skip Nauset Beach and head over here.
Friday night, after dinner, we headed back to Chatham for the famous Chatham band concert on the town green. The concerts are a true piece of Americana that have been going on every summer since 1932. The band plays standards and favorites and includes a lot audience participation.
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a debacle. We learned the hard way that after a week’s vacation, a concert starting at 8 p.m. really doesn’t end well for two young kids that don’t want to nap in preparation.
After a full week, Saturday was spent recovering, eating one last plate of fried clams and just hanging out because that’s what you do at the Cape!